I’ve been crossdressing on and off for 50 years. In the last five, I’ve been dressing quite frequently and have become aware of the effect it has had on my persona. Recently, I’ve been trying to ascertain a clearer, positive perspective on my crossdressing – the resultant notes having been turned into this article.
A Question…and an answer
I wanted a starting point, so posing a suitable question was the best idea. “What do I feel when I crossdress?” This lead me to give thought to one of my earliest crossdressing experiences.
The first time I dressed up properly was when I was fourteen. I was home alone for about half a day. I was determined to get past wearing just underwear and got dressed in a complete outfit, borrowing my sister’s clothes. On looking in the mirror, I was absolutely delighted – ‘I’m a girl.’ As I looked harder at my reflection, I became aware that I was both “boy me” and “girl me” at the same time. Who is this dual me, I thought? If I could be this dual me then what else did I have the potential to be?
This experience was, in a way, a defining change in my life – an inner pathway to the hidden self and its female aspect (the anima) was somehow exposed. Over the years, I have noticed other aspects of the hidden self also becoming known to me – intuitive wisdom, creative endeavours (art, poetry, music …), mystical experiences, etc. The female dimension of myself is just one aspect of my persona.
Using my early experience as the starting point to answer my question, I looked through my journal, blogs, also forums, and articles on CDH to gather more information about how crossdressers described their experiences. I made up a short “Before and After” list of various common descriptive words surrounding the point of transformation
- Before words: sad, melancholia, stressed, negativity, boredom, feeling flat, unfocused, tired and listless, incomplete, self-divided, diminished, drab, and dysphoric.
- The point of transformation – at some point when getting dressed – an inner response.
- After words: happy, delighted, joy, relaxed, contentment, positive feeling about life, intensification of consciousness (holiday feeling), revitalized, feeling complete, fully me, expanded sense of self, beautiful, and euphoric.
The after list of words covers a positive, happy state. Is crossdressing just an addiction to this positive happy state? Perhaps, a trigger for the release of ‘pleasure’ chemicals in the brain. If that’s all it is then in essence there is nothing wrong with the activity; it is only wrong in the eyes of society as it breaks the gender stereotype norm. It does however have value:
- it enables one to have a break or timeout from our everyday male-self, acting as a de-stressor
- it reminds you that you can be happy, joyful, and delighted
- it fulfills a need to be beautiful
My crossdressing is goal-orientated. I keep doing it to experience a joyful ‘happy state’ which is only a natural thing to want to do. Do I need to feed the need? Perhaps so. We need new clothes and experiences for our time en femme. This is no different from everybody’s needs – we all need the stimulus of ‘newness’ to keep us in a positive state – new ideas found on reading a book, a holiday in a new place, and so on.
An evolving persona …
I felt there was more going on within my persona once I began crossdressing regularly; I noticed progressing individuation. The female aspect of my persona had in some ways become a vehicle for change.
When I dress now there is still that point in the transformation where I change from boy me to (boy me plus girl me) and that precipitates changes in my perception of myself and how I feel. When I dress, I also feel that I become a more complete me, this complete me is greater than (boy me plus girl me). Wearing women’s clothes can be thought of as a symbolic transformation, which releases the interior feminine and other unrealised aspects of the hidden self for integration. This newly expanded self seeks expression. I feel that when I crossdress I am changing from male to ‘male plus female.’
The dysphoria I feel is the gap between everyday male me and this new happy state, the expanded self that includes my unfolding, flowering feminine aspect.
During my life, I have been aware of the changes within me, heading towards a balanced dyad of my male and female aspects (objective + subjective, rational + intuitive, left brain + right brain, and so on). In the last few years, this feeling of inner integration has been accelerating, mainly because I made the conscious decision to let these two aspects of myself integrate.
I feel I am a unity of both my male and female aspects together. Being both together is a completion—like the inner alchemical marriage (or conjunction.)
If I was free to dress how I chose it would be a matter of self-expression in a stage in the completion of the evolving self.
* Featured image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Roi_et_Reine_Alchimie.jpg